Hybrid vs Electric: Which is Best?
What’s the Difference Between Hybrid Cars and Battery Electric Cars?
With petrol prices seemingly constantly on the rise, a car that’s fuel efficient is quickly becoming essential for many New Zealanders. So it makes sense to consider hybrids and electric cars, as well as more traditional vehicle options. To make sure you buy the car that’s best going to fit you and your family’s needs it's important to understand the difference between hybrid and battery electric cars.
Hybrid cars use an electric motor for power to accelerate and for speeds of up to approximately 25 km/h. As your speed increases, the petrol motor kicks in and, whenever you decelerate or use the brakes, the energy is stored in the battery for use later on. Hybrid cars don't need to be plugged in to charge the battery.
Electric cars (BEVs), on the other hand, don’t use petrol at all and produce no exhaust emissions, have no clutch or gears, fewer moving parts, require less maintenance and are extremely quiet. They run solely on one or more electric motors, and need to be charged by plugging in, either at home or at a public charging station. The downside is they generally have less driving range than hybrid cars, however it is easy to stop and top up the battery on your drive.
There’s also a third option, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) which are hybrid cars that can also be plugged in. These give you more electric powered driving range than a hybrid, as well as the convenience of a petrol motor that kicks in as needed or once the electric hybrid battery has depleted.
Who are Hybrid Cars Best for?
Hybrid cars are extremely fuel efficient and cheap to run compared to their petrol counterparts, which is why a car like the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid are hugely popular with city dwellers. The continual low speed, stop-start type of driving when you’re running in and around town is where a hybrid really comes into its own.
With a hybrid, when you’re driving at low speeds or inching along during rush hour traffic, you’re effectively using electric power, not churning through fuel. Hybrids cars are also efficient on the open road or motorways as they use Atkinson cycle engines which are supported by the electric motor(s).
Hybrids are ideal for people who want a reliable car that emits less pollution than a petrol or diesel car and who do a lot of city driving. Hybrids are for people that don’t want to have to plug in their vehicle in or have range anxiety. They also can be cheaper to purchase than a PHEV or BEV.
Who are Plug in Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Best for?
Plug-in hybrid cars sit between hybrids and EVs and offer drivers the best of both worlds. They have both an electric motor(s) and a petrol engine, but they can also be plugged in. They’re perfect for people who want to avoid consuming fuel on short journeys but who want the option of a traditional car for longer journeys.
Although you will have to fill up with petrol eventually, with a PHEV like the Prius Prime, fuel consumption is approximately 1.0 litre per 100km* which is incredibly cost effective.
*Fuel Consumption figures are tested under controlled conditions and are provided for comparison purposes, actual results will vary according to vehicle usage and operating conditions.
Who are Battery Electric Cars Best for?
Electric cars might end up costing you more than a hybrid and unlike PHEVs, EVs won’t automatically switch from EV mode to hybrid mode once the battery is depleted. New EVs have a range of around 200-300 km while older EVs are around the 100km mark.
Electric cars are best for people who do a lot of short commutes and like the idea of emissions-free driving. If you want to take a longer trip you’ll need to ensure there are charge stations enroute and allow enough time for recharging. But this is becoming less of an issue with new EVs capable of up to 500km.
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